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Mexican immigrant dies in U.S. custody, fourth death in recent months

El Paso Times Staff
Published 3:28 p.m. ET March 19, 2019 | Updated 3:29 p.m. ET March 19, 2019


A ride along El Paso’s Cesar Chavez Border Highway/Loop 375 offers a look at commuting alongside the border barrier.
Samuel Gaytan and Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times

EL PASO, Texas — A 40-year-old Mexican national died Monday in El Paso while in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The man was apprehended by Border Patrol agents in the pre-dawn hours Sunday near the Bridge of the Americas, according to a CBP news release. He was held for illegal re-entry after a prior deportation.

He was diagnosed with flu-like symptoms, liver failure and renal failure during a medical evaluation at the processing facility near the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry. He was taken to Las Palmas Medical Center, where he died. 

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CBP had not released the man’s name. The agency initiated a review after the man’s death, and notified the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General and the Mexican government.

“CBP will release more details as available and appropriate, and will ensure an independent and thorough review of the circumstances,” Andrew Meehan, assistant commissioner for public affairs for CBP, said in a news release.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and his loved ones,” Meehan said in the release. “CBP remains committed to ensuring the safe, humane and dignified treatment of those within the care of our custody.”

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Past migrant deaths

There have been at least three other migrant deaths in CBP custody since late 2018, two of which were Guatemalan children. Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8, died late Dec. 24 was detained at the El Paso Border Patrol Station with his father. After suffering coughing, vomiting and fever, he was taken to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he died.

Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, was apprehended with her father near the Antelope Wells port of entry in Southern New Mexico. She had begun vomiting and eventually stopped breathing. Jakelin died Dec. 8 at The Hospitals of Providence Memorial Campus in El Paso.

CBP ordered medical exams for all children held in their custody after Felipe’s death.

A 45-year-old man from Mexico died in custody after illegally crossing the border and arrested by Roma Police Department on Feb. 2. He requested medical attention, was cleared by officials at Mission Regional Medical Center and into Border Patrol custody at the Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station. The next day, the immigrant again requested medical care. He was taken to McAllen Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure,  He died the following Monday.

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